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Russian Oil Heads to West Africa for First Time in 5 Years As Sanctions Weigh

  • A shipment of Russian crude is headed for storage tanks in Ghana, Bloomberg reports, as Moscow scrambles to find new buyers. 
  • That marks the first time in 5 years Russian oil has been delivered to a West African country.
  • Russia is under pressure to prop up its oil and gas sales after revenue crashed nearly 50% last month. 

Russian oil is heading to West Africa for the first time since 2018 as Western sanctions force Moscow to look for new buyers, according to Bloomberg

On Friday, a tanker named Theseus arrived in Ghana, carrying about 600,000 barrels of Russian crude. The oil was supposed to be pumped into storage tanks at the Tema Oil Refinery, people familiar with matter told the outlet. 

Ghana itself is an exporter of crude, transporting an average of 140,000 barrels a day over the past six months, according to Bloomberg. It also sits next to Nigeria and Angola, the two largest oil-producing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 

The new development comes as Russia faces pressure to bolster its oil and gas revenue after logging a nearly 50% drop in January, worsening a budget deficit. Sanctions imposed on Moscow after it invaded Ukraine have dragged down the price of Russian crude and deterred buyers, leading to the slide in energy earnings. 

The latest round of sanctions to hit Moscow’s crude include a European Union ban on Russian refined oil products, such as diesel. It adds to an EU embargo on Russian seaborne crude imposed last December, and a Western-inflicted price cap. 

In response to the sanctions, Russia has scrambled to find new buyers for its oil and gas, exporting large volumes to China and India at heavy discounts. Just this month, Russia sold the most crude and fuel oil to China since invading Ukraine last year

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has slammed the sanctions as “stupid,” and has vowed to slash its oil exports by 25% in a bid to push up prices for the West.

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